DTE: Smell a Leak, Call Utility Not 911

Posted at 8:07 PM, May 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-28 22:53:00-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (May 28, 2014) — A west Michigan utility company is reminding the public that if you smell natural gas, call them immediately.

DTE Energy said that a call into 911 doesn’t guarantee the gas company will be notified.

The reminder comes a day after a house explosion in north east Grand Rapids, after several neighbors told authorities that they smelled gas in the area the day before.

The fire department did respond, but said no scent was detected, therefore DTE Energy wasn’t called.

“We would have responded Monday, just like we did yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, it was after the fact yesterday afternoon,” said Roger Royer with DTE Energy.

Royer said that if anyone smells something that they think might be a natural gas leak, call the local utility company right away, even though 911 might seem like a safe bet.

“When you are in doubt, that’s where you reach. Maybe you don’t remember the utilities number off hand, your phone book is not close by, your bill is not close by. So, it’s easy to call the 911 number,” said Royer.

A neighbor near the home of Tuesday’s explosion said that when she called authorities on Monday to report the smell of a leak, she thought she was contacting the right people.

“This is 911 and I said, ‘Do I call you or do I call DTE? Do I call the gas company?’ She said no you call us. I said well, I smell gas and I gave the house numbers that I smelled it in,” said Lauria Majchrzak.

However, Grand Rapids Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Sehlmeyer said that unless there are flames or smoke visible from the home, you should always call the gas company first.

“This is also a good opportunity to let the public out there know if they do smell gas, please call the gas company immediately because there were reports they’ve been smelling gas off and on yesterday afternoon through even early this morning,” said Majchrzak.

While fire officials will respond to an odor complaint, DTE Energy said that its employees are taught how to detect and fix a leak before it’s too late.

“Our people are trained to know about equipment, to know about service fuel lines both in and outside the house. In this particular instance yesterday, it appears that there was a problem from inside the house,” said Royer.

Neighbors said that the homeowners haven’t arrived home from their trip to Tennessee yet, but again are thankful that no one was home at the time of the explosion.